Natalia Kucirkova

University College London, UK  

Personalised books and young children’s reading on screen

The increased availability of customisable technologies and broader socio-cultural and economic phenomena (e.g., increased urbanization, globalization and multiculturalism), have led to a heightened commercial interest in personalised products for young children. This talk focuses on personalized books and personalised digital reading. I will begin with an explanation of what is meant by digital personalisation in early childhood, with some examples of the resources and practices subsumed under this umbrella term. I will outline how digital personalization affects children’s reading experience and how it impacts on children’s learning. In particular, I will focus on the data from an ESRC-funded project on Children’s Personalised Stories. PhaseII of the project aimed to examine in detail parents’ attitudes and practices concerning personalized digital books. Seven mothers and their 3-5-year-old children were videoed reading four award-winning digital books at home, supplemented with interview data and fieldwork notes. I will discuss key themes from this study and how they relate to agency and subjectivity in children’s reading on screen. I will conclude with attention to research methods, with participatory and community-based research highlighted as a promising methodological approach to personalisation.


Natalia Kucirkova is a Senior Research Fellow at the University College London. Her research concerns innovative ways of supporting children’s book reading, digital literacy and exploring the role of personalisation in early years. She co-developed an award-winning children’s app ‘Our Story’ and has widely published on early literacy and children’s technology. Natalia is a Fellow of the Royal Society for Arts, Chair of the judging panel for the UKLA Children’s Digital Book Awards and Advisory Board Member for Save The Children. She co-edits the Bloomsbury Academic Book Series Children’s Reading & Writing on Screen.